Family Services Committee
December 11, 2012

In attendance:  Paul Bailey, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Tana Bloom, Franklin Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Alvina Brevard, DHCD, John Busbin, Community Legal Aid, Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Karen Cavanaugh, WomanShelter, Marcia Crutchfield, HAPHousing, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Henry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Ashley McGurn, DPH – FOR Families, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Enrique Pacheco, Community Action, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Jim Reis, HAPHousing, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Rachel Trant, DCF, Luz Vega, Womanshelter, Susan White, VAMC

Homeless Families Update

Western Mass. motel population = 430.  Down 16% in Western Mass. but unique in the state (total number is still over 1,700).  Western Mass. number down to massive rehousing effort.

HAP received 65-70 MRVPs plus 100 to move families out of the Quality Inn in West Springfield.

Big job moving families out of motels.  HAP, CHD, FOR Families doing a great job.

Considering whether these MRVPs will impact people’s willingness to take $4,000 in household assistance. In Franklin County, which received 5 MRVPs and have distributed 4, there have not been calls from other families seeking MRVPs.  Will continue to watch for this.

There has not been a reduction in number of families coming through the front door.  There is a reduction in the number found eligible.  Alvina encourages people to re-apply if denied because as circumstances change or extend, they could become eligible.

Alvina reminded all that applications from families in rural areas can be done by telephone:  Call 413-627-4462.

Noted change in regulations that now include overcrowded as basis for eligibility.  Must be documented by DCF health and safety assessment and local code inspectors.  Discussed potential challenge for families of involving code inspectors, along with DCF.

Noted that HomeBASE 32 week limit is approaching (families had 32 weeks from 7/1/12 to use $4,000 assistance).  Unclear what happens when that limit is reached (2/13).  Will await policy from DHCD.

HAP Emergency Housing Assistance (temporary, 4 day hotel stays for families denied EA but homeless)  Please contact Jim Reis at for protocol information on this assistance.

Jim Reis reports:  have provided 19 families this assistance.  Of those 19:  8 received RAFT or ESG; 8 became eligible for EA; 3 with unclear outcomes.

50% of families denied EA were denied under the old rules, e.g., lost housing subsidy; 50% denied due to new regulations.

Big challenge for  RAFT families is the waiting period (2-3 weeks) for documentation.

Between VOC and HAP, spent $11,000 since 10/1.  Now HAP is only resource (VOC hotel housing being used as part of rehousing effort from Quality Inn in West Springfield).  Need to take steps to make resource last.  Will redouble efforts to find alternative housing prior to entering emergency hotel housing.  Must complete all forms (see HAP protocol).  Will also access DHCD ESG funds for this purpose.

A huge thanks to HAP for continuing with this critical resource!

RAFT HAP update:  35-50/day people inquiring about RAFT daily.  Aiming to approve 10/week.  Plenty of resources still available.

Motel Project Update:

Quality Inn:  Hosted Thanksgiving lunch with great turn-out.  Families very appreciative.  Workshops have temporarily stopped.  Doctor coming in weekly from Health Care for the Homeless.

Motel managers at Quality Inn have been amazing, providing additional resources to FOR Families and other staff.  Will thank them.

Governor’s 9C cuts:

CEIS program cut
Domestic abuse programs cut by $600,000 statewide – still unclear on impact in Western Mass.
Distributed Mass. Coalition for the Homeless summary of other cuts that impact homelessness.

Fireman Foundation grant update:  Network and other partners waiting to hear from Fireman about its $300,000 grant application for workforce development for homeless families.  It’s a very stiff competition with 7 applications, totaling $2 million and awards being given to 2 applicants for a total of $600,000.  Had a good meeting with Fireman staff on 12/6 and now waiting to hear.  Fingers crossed.

Mom Squad gets funded!  DHCD awarded Springfield Partners for Community Action $50,000 to support the hiring of a full-time coordinator for Square One’s Mom Squad program (employment program for unemployed moms).  Congratulations!

Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein visited WomanShelter in Holyoke.  Executive Director Karen Cavenaugh reported on a great visit and tour with the Undersecretary.  He was very interested and supportive of their programs and their impact on preventing homelessness.  He is great!

Community Action new staff person, Enrique Pacheco, is working for Hampshire and Franklin Counties on the ESG program.  Contact Enrique to learn more at

Next meeting:  need to change from regular 2nd Tuesday due to conflict to THIRD TUESDAY, January 15, 9:30 – 11:00 am, Northampton Senior Center.

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